Fun acquaintance, True friend

​”Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.” – 1 Samuel 18:3 ESV

True, valuable friendships aren’t made in the parties and the celebrations, they are made in the trenches. 

In the trenches of World War I, the norms of tactile contact between men changed profoundly. Mutilation and mortality, loneliness and boredom, the strain of constant bombardment, the breakdown of language and the sense of alienation from home led to a new level of intimacy and intensity under which the carefully constructed mores of civilian society broke down. As historian Joanna Bourke has documented in her exciting work on First World War and masculinity, men nursed and fed their friends when ill; they bathed together; they held each other as they danced, and during the long winter months, wrapped blankets around each other. These moments were often grounded in experiential reality, the nature of these encounters – men on the verge of death, under fire, or being ill – giving them an emotional nakedness and intensity that not only outlive their contingent nature but that continue to grow in emotional value and resonance. It is debatable whether these relationships were those of “comradeship” or personal “friendship” or trench “brotherhood”: each of these relationships had its particular nuance and value, though it is difficult to straitjacket human relationships and feelings, especially in times of physical and emotional extremity. Moreover, they were all forms of male intimacy during crisis with inevitable overlaps or continuity at times and touch seems to have cut across the range of these relationships. The conditions of trench life dictated that there could be moments of perilous intimacy between relative strangers: the trench journal Poil et Plume (October, 1916) records an incident where a severely wounded man fell on an unknown stretcher-bearer and said, “Embrace me. I want to die with you”. On the other hand, W. A. Quinton recalls how one night, as he lay shivering, “old Petch put his overcoat in addition to my own over me, taking care to tuck me in as a mother would a child.” A. F. B. notes, in The Third Battalion Magazine, that Smalley was the great favourite of the Third Battalion for “his heart was as big as his body – his strength like a lion’s – his touch to the wounded as a woman’s.” 

– revised extract from the chapter ‘Kiss me, Hardy: the dying kiss in the First World War Trenches’ in Santanu Das, Touch and Intimacy in First World War Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2005).


These days, the combination of social media and political correctness and so many other divisive and isolating societal factors seems to leave us with a wealth of acquaintances who might know about us to the surface level, but very few friends (if any) with whom we have deep, meaningful, trusting, and truly loving relationships. These types of relationships come as a result of costly commitment, not conditional companionship. They are the result of lIves intertwined  that bear the frayed edges of a worn life of bearing the weight together. 

And if you have this type of friendship and love with someone, it is to be so highly valued amidst the things of this world that most of us call treasure, favor, or blessing. And if we don’t have it, our hearts long for it and hope for it, not knowing if we could ever actually find it. But how does one find such a thing? 

Many of us have been hurt and betrayed enough times that we have given up hope in finding someone that we could trust at that deep and meaningful level. so we stop stepping up to the plate because everyone has failed us,  because everyone at some ppint has fallen short and let us down, so we let ourselves slip into isolation. We decide to develop singular coping mechanisms for dealing with our problems,  which really end up being us burying them and housing them to fester and take root deep within. 

There is something that can’t be explained in the freedom of sharing our faults and struggles with a fellow man or woman and to have them hold us, tell us that they are there for us,  pray with us, and weather the storm by our side. Yes, this is a treasure. And it starts with our being willing to bear those burdens for others ourselves. It starts with us stepping into the messiness and discomfort of someone else’s personal struggle and not just offering to bear the weight, but stepping in and lifting them up and caring them, even in those times where they put up a fight at first. This is what love looks like. 

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.

John 15:12‭-‬14 ESV

http://bible.com/59/jhn.15.12-14.ESV

Lord, send us about your work today. strengthen us to build those books that are strong and true and trustworthy because they are made of the stuff of your Holy Spirit. Bind us together and heal us by the commitments and faithfulness that are lives serving and encouraging, and even correcting and holding each other accountable in that true love that isn’t judgemental expectation,  but is hopeful, unwavering trust that comes from two or more gathered together truly seeking your touch, your counsel, your will. We love you, Lord. Let us walk together with You,  close together, seeing your very character and nature showing itself to us in those who love you and who love us – and rising that they might catch a glimpse of the same in us. Amen.

Familiar friend, Close enemy

​For it is not an enemy who taunts me— 

then I could bear it; 

it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— 

then I could hide from him.  

But it is you, 

a man, my equal, 

my companion, my familiar friend.  

We used to take sweet counsel together; 

within God’s house we walked in the throng.  

Let death steal over them; 

let them go down to Sheol alive; 

for evil is in their dwelling place 

and in their heart.  

But I call to God, 

and the Lord will save me.  

Evening and morning and at noon 

I utter my complaint and moan, 

and he hears my voice.  

He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, 

for many are arrayed against me.  

God will give ear and humble them, 

he who is enthroned from of old, 

Selah 

because they do not change and do not fear God.

Psalms 55:12‭-‬19 ESV

There are so many warnings in the Bible about trusting in men. Check out this link for some of the top verses:  https://www.openbible.info/topics/trusting_man

And even with all of these warnings, most of us rely on men more than we do on God. Most of us are satisfied “hearing from God” through a man once a week instead of seeking God close and personal. Even those who seek God many times fall into relying on theology and systems and denominations and traditions instead of maintaining an open dialog with God through the Holy Spirit. 
I wonder how many of us take the warnings of Micah to heart:

“Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms;  for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.  But as for me, I will look to the Lord ; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” – Micah 7:5‭-‬7 ESV


I see men around me that I once considered friends that I know will stumble me if I walk in their paths. I see men that once tried to teach me and their apparent hypocrisy and pride, and their apparent lack of fear of God, and either their lack of mercy or of warning others of the wages of sin, and their apparent abundance of love for the world or tradition or the honor of self — leads them along cliffs that I dare not walk with them.

And even though I know these men of flesh and blood are not themselves my enemies, I fear how many might be proven as used by my true enemies?

So I look to God as my refuge and as my safe harbor. He alone is trusted to be faithful and true. Not the traditions of pagans gathered by the religious to incorporate into their celebrations – even your days and weeks and months and practices seem to all have been touched, corrupted, perverted at the hands of men who want to put God safely inside a box of their own liking. 

I do understand the redeeming power of Almighty God to turn all things to good,  even those things meant by the enemy for harm – but the more that I discern, the more that I examine and question my own heart. The more that I see “not quite right” in myself, the more that I see it in those around me. I am learning to hate so much of this fallen world even while learning to live those trapped in it. 
And all I can do of any true redeeming value is draw closer to the Lord, serve Him through my opportunities to serve others, share this Good News, and remain steadfast awaiting His return. 

Who do I trust? 

God. He is not my enemy. 

Or if He were, what hope would I have anyways? 

So there lies my trust. 

Eloquent Lives

​And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” – Luke 2:20 ESV

In C.H. Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students, he comments:

It is remarkable that the only church history we have is, “The Acts of the Apostles.” The Holy Spirit has not preserved their sermons.

 Throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the majority of the content is telling about the lives of people. And it isn’t about their lives inside a building performing rituals, it is about their day to day lives and how God impacted the world around them in their day through their faithfulnesa (or through their disobedience). What is recorded isn’t as much about their religion — their “playing church” or “offering sacrifices” or “singing praises” — but is about their lives, about God’s abiding presence and its affect on them and thode around them. 

The Shepherds weren’t great orators. They didn’t put together perfectly planned out entertainment packages and expositional doctrinal teachings in front of those who would gather around them. No, they had seen Jesus — so they went along their lives and daily responsibilities, changed deeply by this experience, and sharing and rejoicing with all they met. 

Lord, help us to live eloquent lives of praising and glorifying you, not just practiced, familiar words spoken, but a life lived as our reasonable service. Acts of Christians, not just sermons of preachers. Amen.

Not “only human”

​”to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:22‭-‬24 ESV


How often have we used the excuses,  “I’m only human…””or “I’m just a sinner…” to justify our continuing to not walk in obedience? That is not profitable, friends,  nor is the example that the Word of God lays out for us. 

There is a word that Jesus used to describe those who talked about God and who attended religious services but who had no real interest in living close to God. Jesus called them “Hypocrites”.

You hypocrites (play-actors, pretenders), rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said,  ‘This people honors Me with their lips ,  But their heart is far away from Me .  ‘But in vain do they worship Me ,  For they teach as  doctrines the precepts of men .’” – MATTHEW 15:7‭-‬9 AMP


We are not meant to just “play church” on Sundays and then return to “real life” the rest of the week. Our tithes,  our songs, our saying amen to the points of a sermon, out confessing our sins yet again – these are not the weekly sacrifices that God wants from us so that He will leave us alone and forget about what we’ve done once again. No, that is the mind of a lost, religious person who is far from God and desires no real relationship with God, even though they understand and recognize the difference between right and wrong. 

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” – 2 Peter 2:20‭-‬22 ESV


Grace is not an excuse to remain in sin. If this is your concept of grace, one that pushes you further and further away from God’s will,  I encourage you to examine yourself.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! – 2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV

We who are His, who are called Children of God, who hear His voice and follow Him, who He abides and walks and talks with, who walking in Spirit and Truth not in flesh and confusion – we have a purpose and a calling today, and it is not to be proven children of disobedience who cry out “Lord, Lord” but, who have no intention of loving and serving God.

“Not everyone who  says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will  enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who  does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ – Matthew 7:21‭-‬23 ESV


So if we say we believe, let it be true. Let it be evident in our lives, not so that we would look religious and be honored by others, but so that we might bear the fruit of a surrendered life. 

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20 ESV


And let’s encourage one another with our love of God, love of His instruction, and love of our fellow brothers and sisters. 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:23‭-‬31 ESV

Let’s live it out for His glory,  as our reasonable service,  the result of our grattitude for this undeserved gift of grace. 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1‭-‬2 ESV

Lord, focus our hearts and minds on your purposes today. Lead us along the path of righteousness for your own name’s sake. Deliver us from evil and prove yourself victorious through the living testimony of our living and serving you today, Lord. Help us to see past the tricks of the enemy and to set our eyes firmly upon you today,  Lord. We believe,  Lord, we are yours with Christ as our solid foundation – we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and we believe that He is risen from the dead to sit in authority and power to judge between the born again and the dead. Prove us to be alive with your Holy Spirit. Bring us through the fiery trials of this life and show the see aroma of your presence, your peace, your Love, your very nature and character, alive and evident in us today. Demonstrate that we are not “merely human”, but are born again,  new creations. Amen.

Luke Jumbo Jet

​Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” – Luke 7:47 ESV

I love this passage from Luke 7:36-50 which was a shock to the religious people of that day. I imagine this reaction was very similar to how many “religious people” today react to a message like the one shared recently by Andrew Green, pastor of Highways and Hedges Ministries in Cookeville, Tennessee entitled:

“PROSTITUTES, DOPE DEALERS, STRIPPERS, MURDERERS, NEEDLE JUNKIES, CRACK HEADS, METH USERS! ETC… GODS GOING TO RAISE UP A ARMY OF THESE FOR HIS GLORY!”

REF: https://www.facebook.com/evangelistandrewgreen/

You see, this is where I see the active, alive, abiding, serving church — taking the Good News to the poor, the needy,  the afflicted and helping them — not just telling “others” that they had better “measure up” to the standards of the “good Christians” in order to be able to join in Sunday services. And don’t get me wrong,  I’m not advocating a life of sin at all, but I’m wondering how many polished and disciplined facades are just precariously built walls barely holding back the religious stench of death where there is no real love for God or for brother or neighbor? Only vanity uncovered yet again in some sparkly new, unfamiliar packaging.

When I see God moving in undeniable ways,  it isn’t in the “strong,  wise,  proud, and religious” — it’s in the weak,  the broken, the humble, and the needy. It’s in those who know that they need Him, that they can’t make it without Him, that they are utterly destitute and without any chance of hope if it doesn’t flow down from Him. 

If you don’t think that you have sin,  then what in the world do you have to be thankful for this Christmas season? Instead of a Savior,  do you see a tour guide whom you feel you can best with your own attempts to earn your way? 

Or don’t we all have those deep, dark actions,  or words,  or even thoughts that we would be ashamed if the wold around us really knew the depths of our darkness? Or maybe that’s just me? Maybe you all have not denied God so many times in your life to chase after the world’s relations? Maybe you all have been obedient to God and to parents and have not lied, or stolen, or lusted, or hated, or judged, or gossiped, or cursed,  or doubted? I think not. 

So I’m glad that this message came in from Luke on a Jumbo Jet. Yes, that’s what they called the popular Boeing 747, a “Jumbo Jet”, because it was big, and it transported large numbers of people to their destination. And this is true of Luke 7:47 if you understand how to get onboard the only path that leads to a destination you actually want. If you’re practicing religion, trying to be good enough out of some obligation to satisfy God’s wrath, you may have missed the whole point of Christ. In fact,  yours might be even more shocking a demonstration of His wrath than that in store for the carnal and lawless reprobate.

It concerns me how many will realize too late their own fate, the futile nature of loveless religious traditions and sacrifices,  but I know that God knows best. 

“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.  But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.” – Hosea 6:6‭-‬7 ESV


But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” – Matthew 9:13 NKJV

Good News, Zion!

​How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” – Isaiah 52:7 NKJV

Good News, sons of Abraham, faithful servants, body of Christ, those who have ears to hear,  “Your God reigns!” And this is not news that anything has changed, for God has reigned since the beginning, even before He created the heavens and the earth. Even before He revealed Himself to the world as God come in the flesh, Immanuel “God with us”, He is, and was and evermore shall be.  

He bring us tidings of joy, peace in the storm, blessings and favor, and salvation to those who believe and abide in Him and He in them. He bring rain upon the just and the unjust and offers this example so that we might share His love and His light to a world lost in darkness and hopelessness, and sin and death. Rise up,  Zion, hear His call, lie dead and dormant no more, for He breathes life and salvation into those He calls. 

Have you received life? Have you confessed Jesus is Lord, and do you believe God raised Him from the dead? If so, the Word of God says, “You are saved! Go and sin no more.” (Romans 10:9,John 8:11) And Romans 10:11 and Psalm 25:3 tell us that anyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame. 
So we have much to celebrate this Christmas season, not the presents, or time off of work, or time with family – which are all wonderful blessings- but we celebrate the one from whom those blessings flow –

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will  be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” – Luke 2:9‭-‬14 NKJV

​“Command the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant to come up out of the riverbed.” – Joshua 4:16 NLT


I’m reminded that the real work of ministry is dirty. 

It isn’t self reflection in a pristinely clean attempt to look perfect in our presentation, in our performance, in our acting out the part of “looking like a real Christian”. No, that is the hypocrisy of many religious gatherings of people wearing their plastic masks that hide the death and rot that lies underneath. 

No, ministry is getting past the walls, past the “keeping up of appearances” and getting to the heart of the matter when someone’s life is bearing poison that is harmful to others around them. Ministry is helping people work through their bitterness and unforgiveness and offense that they have with someone else – not teaching them how to bury it or hide it. Ministry is bringing into the light those things that most believe are best left in the darkness and seeing people delivered from the chains that bind. 

We are called to step out into these waters and get past an empty religious practice that is self centered and self seeking and self focused where we could become very good at polishing the outside of the cup. We are called to get our feet into the mud so that the people can cross over to safety. There is a harvest and the Lord needs laborers willing to get their feet wet.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! – Isaiah 52:7 NLT

I pray that you hear the call, friend. I pray that you are the need of your brother and sister around you. I pray that you get to enjoy the amazing blessing of serving others, of washing their feet, of showing them the way, of sharing the truth of our testimony and of His example,  of letting them know that it is safe to cross over into the arms of their Lord and Savior by grace through faith. I pray that you will not be afraid to get your feet dirty in this ministry of reconciliation. I pray that you will have the feet of those who carry the Good News of the gospel to the world, but more importantly,  I pray that you will cross over into His grace, into an abiding relationship with God, into a new life delivered, renewed, born again. Hallelujah, praise the Lord! Amen.

 

How will you do it, Lord?

​Abram said, “Lord God , what reward will You give me, since I am [leaving this world] childless, and he who will be the owner and heir of my house is this [servant] Eliezer from Damascus?” And Abram continued, “Since You have given no child to me, one (a servant) born in my house is my heir.” Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man [Eliezer] will not be your heir but he who shall come from your own body shall be your heir.” And the Lord brought Abram outside [his tent into the night] and said, “Look now toward the heavens and count the stars–if you are able to count them.” Then He said to him, “So [numerous] shall your descendants be.” Then Abram believed in (affirmed, trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the Lord ; and He counted (credited) it to him as righteousness (doing right in regard to God and man). And He said to him, “I am the [same] Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land as an inheritance.” – GENESIS 15:2‭-‬7 AMP

Abraham didn’t understand how God was going to make this happen, but He trusted God anyways. How often do we get this backwards? Trying to understand or define how God operates? Trying to confine God to a comfortable box that we can wrap our heads around instead of kneeling in awe and reverence before and Almighty God who can be trusted? 

Lord,  don’t let our hunger for wisdom and understanding outpace our faithfulness and trust in you. Keep us near to you,  Lord, so that we might remain humble and obedient and loving and just, for your glory and honor. Amen.

“Today” & “”Tomorrow”

​And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” – Joshua 3:5 NKJV

“Sanctify yourself for tomorrow”

קָדַשׁ

מָחָר

“Show yourself set apart for God’s use in preparation for what is to come.”

Planning and preparing for tomorrow, even for eternity, not just living for the day. 

Yes, vision that sees past the moment and looks to the future. Grasping hold of what is most enjoyable in the moment can come with costs unexpected for tomorrow. A child with no wisdom yet doesn’t under stand this. They will give up the promise of ten in the bush for the reality of one in the hand. In fact, or very nature cries out for this even if we are adults – but our experience has taught us something different. 
For example, as a married man,  don’t I know from experience that letting my eyes wander will result in me forgetting the amazing blessing that I have been given in my wonderful wife? 

For example, as a working man, if I spend up my paycheck the weekend after I get paid, or buy and live past my means,  don’t I know from experience that not having any self-control and discipline in my handling of the smaller things like money will leave me in debt and servitude to others, and will impact my ability to help those truly in need around me (the heavier matters of life).

For example, as a studying man, if I think of myself as wise and able to instruct others,  won’t I eventually encounter something that is past my understanding, and won’t I be humbled by the laborer, mechanic, plumber, farmer, ditch digger, and garbage man when I find that I could do very little for myself in a world where they do not provide for me. 
So when I’m saying be sanctified, be set apart,  I’m not saying be divided from the people. No, how can you poor out the love of Christ or share the Good News of you isolate yourselves from the very people we are called to go out and reach? 

No, I am saying,  be separate by your resisting the desires of the flesh, the last of the eyes, and the pride of life. I’m saying that the Lord has a purpose and mission and destination for you, Child of God, and you should prepare yourself for what lies ahead. I’m saying,  don’t let yourself get tangled up in the chains of the dead, but cast them off and prepare yourself for His Holy use. 

For you do not know when “that day” comes. You do not know when your running total of “todays”will come to its end. You do not know what work will be done in you and through you to accomplish His will today and prepare you for tomorrow. 

Are you sanctified? Or are you bathing in sin and worldliness and self in order to satisfy the desires of your evil heart? 

Do you know the Lord and love Him or do you hate Him? Don’t answer me with your words, we are proving it today with our lives. I pray that this truth is not bringing condemnation upon you,  because I pray that you are consecrated for His Holy use,  I pray that you are a peculiar and set apart people – and I pray that if you are not that you will repent while it is still “today”.

Yes, we will choose today who it is we will serve. If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, return to your vomit,  enjoy the rain that He sends down upon both the just and the unjust,  enjoy your today until tomorrow comes if that is indeed your decision. I have stood on the mountaintops and sounded the trumpet,  and so many have returned to their true love instead of remembering their first love,  He who loved you before you were even in your mother’s womb. If you have chosen a better party than the wedding feast of the Lamb, I will go and invite all from the streets and the dutchess and the highways and the hedges to come instead. They will be grateful because they will understand that they have been forgiven much.

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” – Revelation 19:6‭-‬9 NKJV


And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son,  and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.  Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’  But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.  And the rest seized his servants, treated them  spitefully, and killed them.  But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.  Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.  Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’  So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.  So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.  Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him  into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.” – Matthew 22:1‭-‬14 NKJV

Don’t miss the roses

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? For whom are you looking?Supposing that He was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you are the one who has carried Him away from here, tell me where you have put Him, and I will take Him away.” – JOHN 20:15 AMP​

How often have we thought He was just a man in need on the street corner, just a passerby on the sidewalk or in the hall, just a heaven laden mother trying to make it through the grocery store with her kids in tow, just a person that has fallen on tough times, just a person who has made poor choices…

Let’s look at the full passage of scripture. 

But Mary [who had returned] was standing outside the tomb sobbing; and so, as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you crying?” She told them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” After saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? For whom are you looking?” Supposing that He was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you are the one who has carried Him away from here, tell me where you have put Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “ Do not hold Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came, reporting to the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that He had said these things to her.

JOHN 20:11‭-‬18 AMP

And don’t we see this recurring theme of the Lord being present but not being heard or seen or recognized?

Let love of your fellow believers continue. Do not neglect to extend hospitality to strangers [especially among the family of believers–being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. – HEBREWS 13:1‭-‬2 AMP

And isn’t this in fact quite important to understanding the condemnation:

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

John 3:19‭-‬21 NKJV

So it makes it much easier to understand the judgement:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  I was  naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:  for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;  I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’  Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Matthew 25:31‭-‬46 NKJV

Open our eyes to see you, Lord, so that we can enjoy those precious moments in the garden with you. Amen.